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Crit Care Med. 1994 Apr;22(4):573-9.

Pulmonary artery catheterization in critically ill patients: a prospective analysis of outcome changes associated with catheter-prompted changes in therapy.

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Service de Réanimation Médicale, Université Paris XII, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Créteil, France.



To evaluate physician accuracy in predicting patients' hemodynamic profiles, associated morbidities, rates of change in therapy resulting from catheterization, and the outcome variations associated with such change before the insertion of a pulmonary artery catheter.


Prospective, descriptive, cohort study with no interventions.


Medical intensive care unit (ICU) of a university hospital.


One hundred twelve catheterizations performed in 112 patients without acute myocardial infarction. In 43 cases, catheterizations were indicated because of circulatory shock that was unresponsive to two standard therapeutic measures.


Before catheterization, physicians were asked to predict the hemodynamic profile of the patients who were to be catheterized, and to provide a plan for therapy. After catheterization, each patient's chart was reviewed and compared with precatheterization predictions. Hemodynamic profiles were correctly predicted in only 56% of the cases. Information obtained from pulmonary artery catheters prompted changes in therapy in 58% of all cases and in 63% of patients in shock who were unresponsive to standard therapy. Modifications varied among hemodynamic profiles, from 33% (fluid overloaded) to 87% (hypovolemia). Complications occurred in 11 catheterizations, but only two complications required therapy (pneumothorax [n = 1] and one episode of arrhythmia). No systemic infection occurred, and all blood cultures sampled through catheters before the catheters were withdrawn were sterile. In the entire group of patients, those patients in whom catheterization induced a change in therapy and those patients in whom no change in therapy occurred had similar precatheterization characteristics and mortality rates. However, in the subgroup of patients in shock that was unresponsive to standard therapy, the mortality rate was significantly lower when the assessment of hemodynamic data led to a change in therapy (59% vs. 100%, p = .009), despite identical precatheterization characteristics.


Prompted by assessment of pulmonary artery catheter measurements in patients with circulatory shock who were unresponsive to standard therapeutic measures, a change in therapy for these patients was associated with an improved prognosis, independent of other variables influencing outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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